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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Obama and the "far" left

I have often heard America described by pundits as a "center right" country, and I don't buy it at all, because polls show that substantial majorities of Americans agree with many Democratic positions, especially those regarding the social safety net - the area that (traditional) Republicans are most at odds with.  Americans are quite willing to embrace the rhetoric of  "center right" positions, because these are so often presented in terms of "freedom" and "liberty" and other beloved concepts.  But the majority of Americans have indicated over and over, across decades, that they do not want to leave the poor and elderly to struggle on their own, nor do they want all government functions to be privatized.

But exactly how to appeal to voters, and position issues, remains a mystery that continues to defy logic.  "Obamacare" is an illustrative example.  The reforms it includes arrived out of a conservative think tank a couple of decades ago, and was adopted by the Obama administration, presumably in an attempt to achieve a workable compromise and actually pass legislation (after they decided that the single payer option wasn't worth fighting for). Once it was adopted, with virtually no Republican support, it was recast as socialism and a government takeover of healthcare.  Which, of course, it is not. And now that some of the more popular provisions have taken effect, many Americans are less willing to support its repeal.

(The cap and trade approach to clean air is another conservative idea that was co-opted by Democrats, again, presumably in an attempt to achieve a workable compromise and actually pass legislation, and was promptly rejected by Republicans, and recast as anti-business and radical and so on and so on.)

Every time the Democrats move to the right in what I hope is an attempt at compromise, the Republicans just move further to the right, and reposition their own ideas as radical far left concepts.  Meanwhile, actual far left concepts fade into the horizon without much consideration in the marketplace of ideas.

Which is a sad truth, but also makes the constant labeling of Obama as the most liberal leader of all time, and a socialist, etc, etc, even more galling.  In fact, he is turning out to be a rather conservative Democrat, at least in his style of governing at the national level.

My "far left" friends are completely disgusted with Obama, for any number of reasons:
  • unwilling to fight for the single payer option during the healthcare debate
  • not closing Guantanamo, as promised
  • escalating the war in Afghanistan
  • using drone strikes in Pakistan
  • deporting more illegal immigrants than any former administration
  • forcefully pursuing the "war on drugs," including medical marijuana
This is just a sampling - the list goes on and on. Labeling him a socialist is obviously a political tactic, and of course a stand-in for "black," which is the objection that many have to him, whether they admit it or not. But for true progressives like myself, it is bitter indeed.



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